April 3, 2013
FTR Associates has released preliminary data showing March Class 8 truck net orders at 21,817 units, a 4 percent decline February.
“The March orders came in above 21,000 units which is a good sign for the near-term. We expect that anything above 19,000 units in orders adds to the backlog of orders to be built which we believe will be confirmed when numbers are finalized mid-month,” Eric Starks, FTR’s president, says.
While March orders dipped somewhat from the previous month they were up 11 percent year-over-year and combined with January/February orders resulted in an annualized rate for the first three months of 2013 at 266,808 units.
“We didn’t expect orders to fall from recent levels; however, it is good to see actual data suggesting the market has stabilized with more upside potential for the second half of the year,” Starks adds. “The next few months’ orders will be critical in understanding the demand pressure as we move into the summer.”
To put the numbers in perspective, Starks says the FTR 2013 forecast requires an average order intake of around 22,000 units per month for the next six months with March numbers sitting right near that sweet spot.
“If orders come in nearer to 25,000 units for the next three months it would make us feel more comfortable about moving our forecast higher for the second half of the year,” he adds. “Also, the industry will have to be careful looking at the year-over-year changes for orders through the summer as we saw a noticeable fall off in order activity in the middle of last year. Therefore, we would expect to see healthy year-over-year gains over the next five months.”
Preliminary order numbers are for all major North American OEMs.
Final data for March will be available from FTR later in the month as part of its North American Commercial Truck & Trailer Outlook service.